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Captain Awkward,

I used to share an apartment with two roommates (both she/her). We all met and went to college together, were friends, and needed to save money – the usual. They were a couple, and ultimately I was in their wedding, but things ended very badly.

I hesitate to say it was abuse, but they used a lot of the same behaviours as their – and my – abusive parents during the time we lived together. Aggressive tone policing, gaslighting, manipulation, trying to exert control over my relationships, raging over where and with whom I spent my time, and lies upon lies. I’ll admit that by the time I left I was not my best self, and responded defensively to even normal conflict. I left abruptly after a “small” argument devolved into a scathing rant about my “toxic“ personality and perceived mental illnesses. I have never spoken with either of them since, and I told only a few people, including a therapist and only one mutual friend who sought me out to ask, about the reality of living in that home. My roommates have, of course, told everyone the version of events where we had a minor scuffle and I stormed out never to be seen again.

It’s a couple years on and I still occasionally get offers from our (large, close knit group of) mutual friends to “mediate” a discussion between us, or comments about how it’s “so sad” we don’t see each other anymore. I saw one of them at the local grocery once and had a panic attack – I don’t think it’s very sad. But explaining this to every busybody we know feels like too much to ask of me when I can barely talk about it at all. I believe that some friends think less of me for “not trying”, and I know that I did lose my temper in that last conversation, so sometimes it seems like it would be the right thing to do. How should I respond to these requests and comments?

– Bun (she/her)

Dear Bun: 

Do you want to be in touch with your former roommates again? Do you want to talk over what happened and make some sort of peace with these people? 

It sounds like you deeply do not, so I suggest embracing that truth: You were friends, you lived together, it was awful, and now you’re free and would like to stay that way. If you let that truth ground you when you interact with well-meaning diplomats in your life, maybe you can remove pressure to justify yourself or explain. 

You don’t owe anybody the whole story of what happened in your former living situation, nor do you owe anybody keeping it all a secret forever or telling only versions that make everyone look good. Freeing yourself of those obligations can be another source of truth, and strength, if you let it. 

Here’s another truth: Your former roommates know how to find you. If they wanted to apologize or make peace or ask you what “really” happened from your perspective, they could speak with you directly. If you wanted to seek them out, you could. The fact that that hasn’t happened is its own kind of truth. 

With the warning that “asking questions” leads to “discussing it more,” you might find it useful to ask questions of closer mutual friends who have brought this issue up more than once: 

  • “You seem really invested in this. Why?” Is this concern coming out of care for you, carrying water for your former roommates, curiosity, “just wanting to help,” nostalgia for the old days, etc.? Don’t assume, ask them to explain why they keep bringing it up. 
  • “Where is this coming from? Did [Former Roommates] ask you to talk to me?”  Are your mutuals being deputized to find out what you’re saying or ‘clear the air’ by proxy? That’s good information.
  • “It’s been two years. Why is this still a thing?” 
  • “What do you hope or imagine will happen at this so-called mediation session?” 
  • “What if I told you that [Former Roommates] and I are never going to be friends again, no matter what anybody does? Would that be enough to make this stop?” 

Hear them out, so if you need to shut it down again you’ll have a better idea of how. 

Additionally, here are some catch-all scripts that tell the truth without inviting further discussion: 

  • “I’m not sure there is an explanation that will satisfy everyone, but I know ending the friendship was the right thing for me to do.” 
  • “I know you want to help, but the way to help is to leave this whole question alone.” 
  • “I know the story is that I snapped ‘over nothing’ all of a sudden, but I’d been unhappy living there for a long time, and I’m not sure ‘talking through it reasonably like adults’ or whatever would have made anything better than it turned out. Anyway, it’s over, and I’m better off than I was before I moved out, so I’m going to keep going with that.” 
  • “I value my friendship with you very much, but ‘all of us being together again like before’ just isn’t a goal I have. I prefer to keep my distance from [Former Roommates]. Can you hang with that?” 
  • “Can you and I hang out without having to talk about [Former Roommates]? I want to put it all behind me, not relive it all the time.” 
  • “You’re kind to offer, but I’m pretty set on keeping my distance from [Former Roommates]. If I ever change my mind, trust that I’ll handle it myself or ask for help outright.” 
  • “I’m afraid that we were incompatible enough as roommates that there’s no friendship left to fix. Please, let this go!”
  • “I appreciate you telling me, but I really need this topic to die. Former Roommates and I are not friends anymore, and I don’t want to try the question of the time our living situation completely unraveled in Friendship Court. Can I trust you to accept that and let me move on?” 

Since this is an emotionally fraught topic, it probably wouldn’t hurt to practice different scripts (and adapt them into your own words) with your therapist and/or a trusted friend before you try them in the field. I also want to leave you with three possible goals or questions to mull over: 

A) What would it mean to cultivate friendships with people who know your former roommates in a way that is not about The Whole Group Being Together? Which of these friendships do you truly want to keep? Is “doesn’t keep bugging me about this” a good selection tool for who can hang with you for the long-term without trying to drag you into the past? 

B) Imagine yourself seeing your former roommates in the grocery store. Is there something you, they, or anybody could say that would allow you to just nod “hey” at them, no panic attack, and get on with the rest of your day? Can you imagine a future where they are relegated to “vaguely irritating background noise”?

C) What is the potential upside–or downside–of completely leveling with these dedicated Middle Children of your former social group about how very bad it was and getting as visibly upset as you actually feel? “I realize that the story is that I’m The Toxic One who blew up over ‘nothing,’ but honestly, living with them was a nightmare for me from beginning to end, and the last straw was them telling me outright I had ‘a toxic personality.’  My exit may have been less than graceful, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t final, or, it would be, if everyone else would let me move on in peace. Does that clear things up? Great. Now DROP. IT. and TELL. EVERYONE.” 

I don’t like losing my temper, and I always feel ashamed when I do, but neither of us owes the world a facade of perfect calm. I’d argue that losing your temper amid constant needling, criticism, correction, and lies in an escalating conflict zone doesn’t mean you were wrong about leaving or why it needed to happen. Whether or not you ever say something like that, getting some clarity about who your avoidance of these people and this topic is meant to protect might help you put some of this to rest for yourself. 

Alex Mike

Connected Cannabis Co. was founded in 2009 and has since grown to become a leading cultivator of designer cannabis strains. Today, the company announced $30 million in debt and equity financing. This comes after the company raised a $25 million Series A in 2019. The new round was led by existing investors including Navy Capital and One Tower Group. Emerald Park Capital, an affiliate of Bryant Park Capital, and Presidio View Capital also participated.

Currently, Connected Cannabis Co. operates cultivation and retail facilities in California and Arizona. With the additional financing, it intends to expand elsewhere. The company says it plans on focusing on states with robust cannabis cultures and promising outlook for growth such as Nevada and Michigan.

“We’re thrilled to bring Emerald Park Capital and Presidio into the Connected family and welcome back our long-term partners that have supported our company’s mission from the very beginning,” said Sam Ghods, CEO of Connected. “We are steadfast in our development of new, best-in-class genetics and our production of top-quality flower that has resulted in impressive growth and unwavering customer loyalty. That same commitment and quality that we’ve prided ourselves on from day one will stay with us as we enter additional states. We look forward to bringing our true product and brand to consumers in new markets – that is our highest priority every time we look at expansion.”

Connected Cannabis is among a growing number of cannabis-focused companies amassing a war chest ahead of expanding outside of select regions. As more states in the United States legalize cannabis, more companies are exploring expansion options. Strict federal regulations often slow the process and make it cumbersome for cultivators like Connected to operate in different states, which often have different regulations and federal law prohibits interstate commerce.

Growing cannabis is easy. The plant is hardy is hearty and forgiving. Growing cannabis at scale is anything but hearty and forgiving, which is why Connected turned to additional funding to fuel its national growth.

Alex Mike

Offering a respite from processed foods for the richest 20% of Americans, Simple Feast has landed on U.S. shores with a mission to expand its presence on the back of $45 million in financing from investors.

The European startup is looking to take a page from the shouty LIVEKINDLY Collective playbook and take on the U.S. market with gourmet prepared meals that come with a gourmet price tag and a mission to make Americans eat less meat by proffering more tasty and delicious vegetarian options.

It’s a strategy that netted LIVEKINDLY Collective’s business $335 million in a recent round of funding, making it one of the most well capitalized new entrants in the vegetarian food brand category.

“There’s a general health problem that’s coming mostly from what we put in our mouth,” said Jakob Jønck, the company’s co-founder and chief executive.

For folks in the U.S. who can afford it, Simple Feast is offering packaged meal kits with menus developed by chefs from some of the world’s highest end restaurants — place like French Laundry in California or Noma in Norway, where meals can run roughly $350 per-person.

A selection of three prepared meals for two-to-three people will run customers around $98 per-week and for a family of four or five that number jumps to $159 per-week.

Simple Feast’s foray into the US market represents just a small portion of the company’s total offerings. In the Nordic region the company offers about 30 different products all targeting people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat.

Investors certainly love the company’s offering, because, as Jønck says, the products probably represent the highest margin in the meal kit category.

Those financiers include firms like the European venture capitalists Balderton Capital and Kinnevik, and New York-based 14W.

As for the company’s customers, they’re mostly moms with kids whose income puts them in the top 20% of the population. While they may be far more wealthy than the hoi polloi, Jønck said they still suffer from exposure to the worst aspects of America’s industrial food machine — highly processed foods that are causing an explosion in chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity.

Data from places like the Rand Institute indicate that in America, the burden of insufficient nutrition and the chronic conditions that stem from that are disproportionately affecting low income and middle income families.

Health is a problem in the U.S. with $794 billion per year estimated to be lost in productivity between 2016 and 2030. An article from HealthAffairs cited research from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies estimates stating that health inequities and premature death cost the US economy $309.3 billion a year.

However, these costs are primarily born by the poorest Americans, particularly minorities. “People of color face higher rates of diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and cancer than whites,” the HealthAffairs article says.

Simple Feast is working to correct that, says Jønck. The company’s European packaged prepared meals available in retail stores cost around $15, he said, and the company will offer salaries far above the minimum wage in the U.S. to do its part in ameliorating some of the wealth disparity in the country.

“This is a general play on an industry that needs to change for the ground up. This system needs to change,” Jønck said. 


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